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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 18, 2011 4:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

A fellow named Nick on another forum has been reviewing all of these TDIH shows. For your enjoyment:

DAY ONE: 7/12/76
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1976-07-12.sbd.unknown.10362.sbeok.shnf

There's a long rehearsal/soundcheck that circulates, apparently from the afternoon of the first gig. There's even pro-shot video of it, which makes me drool at the thought that Bill Graham's people may have the rest of the run sitting in storage somewhere... but that's a rabbit hole for another person to dive down. If I get so inspired, I'll pick some highlights from the soundcheck, but it's generally just a rehearsal. I vaguely recall the Eyes being pleasant. Anyway.

THE SHOW:
So bear in my mind that all of these songs were breakouts to the crowd, none of whom had had them played live by the Dead in almost a year (at the very least). The band sounds excellent -- tight, well rehearsed, very comfortable, though not particularly risky on this first night. I will have to dig out the quote from Phil's book, but apparently there was some genuine apprehension among the Dead as to how they would be received by a rock & roll public after a year-and-a-half absence. The times, needless to say, had changed, as had the marketplace, and they were understandably worried about how people would take to them again. Granted, they had a month of shows to dispel any notions of being has-beens, but I'm sure they had plenty to prove when they walked onstage this first night in San Francisco.

OK, SO THE SHOW ALREADY:
What we currently have is a hissy, somewhat muffled sbd, but the balance is nevertheless very good, with Phil particularly loud and clear. Jerry's a little on the low side, but that appears to be how he wanted it, as he sounds the same on the auds. I'll maybe say more about the overall quality of the tapes at some point, but we have at very least listenable sbds of everything, with very good Bob Menke auds for every show but the final one.

Opening night in their hometown, and they start out totally in the groove, full of energy and drive: the Music Never Stopped opener was a perfect choice for their first song of the run, and is very well played, immediately showing off the slinky, elastic, slyly energetic yet understated groove that characterizes the whole run. BEWomen and Cassidy are excellent follow ups, though it doesn't sound like they're ready to push the boundaries much. Garcia's playing in each is mercurial, creative, and energetic, but also very concise: these are all little gems, but may disappoint anyone looking for the boys to just cut loose and wail. Listen closely, though, and you'll hear kinds of great leftfield little fills from jerry and "unpredictable" solos (in a good way). Dig, for example, the little moment of zen in the first TMNS jam. Keith sounds excellent throughout, and Phil sounds particularly happy to be home -- dig how delighted and funky he sounds in this first version of the newly revamped Minglewood, with a more more strutting funky stutter to it than all later versions.

Vocal-wise, they all sound sublime: playing beautiful little theaters after a couple years of increasingly bigger and bigger arenas did wonders for all the singers, Donna in particular. There will always be people who always hate LLRain, but if these 76 versions don't sell you, then maybe nothing will: listen to how perfect Donna and Bob sound together, especially when right after they sing "you were listening to a fight," Bob says "that's right" and Donna replies "yeah" as sweetly as you'd want. Downsides include, of course, the residual rustiness from their time off, particularly between the two drummers (as has been discussed many times before), a couple minor missteps, and the occasional poor setlist choice, particularly in the juxtaposition of multiple slow tunes that, in my mind, kind of kill the momentum. Candyman-LLRain-Jimmy are all sweet as a love note individually, but as a trifecta it does get a little sleepy. Fortunately, they rally with a tight Lazy>Supp, Deal, Promised closing run to bring us all back up. And keep in mind, the wonky setlist choices that sometimes muffed a few of the June shows have mostly been ironed out by these July shows -- there are plenty of creative choices with relatively few clunkers.

Second set opens with a solid, nice Sugaree, already stretching beyond its pre-hiatus confines -- while they're not as the titanic length of 77 and beyond, you can feel Jerry testing the elastic, and it feels good. Samson was the constant for the year (did they ever not play it?) and sounds dandy. Then we get the show's first major highlight, and the only Help>Slip>Frank of the run. Help>Slip is tight yet deliciously slippery, but they all hit their parts smoothly and the whole thing tingles like a nice smooth bourbon. The Slipknot jam breathes and flows like many of the June versions, getting mellower as it goes rather than building in intensity; not the easiest trick to pull off, but I love these 76 Slipknots, and this may not be among the best, but it's still real good and never gets bogged down in some sluggish drag like some others from this vintage. Franklin's too is just about that perfect, light summer bounce: Jerry sounds great, but no one's face is getting melted during this. Just take it easy, why don'tcha?

Dancin' is decent. These 76 versions have more of a stuttered, syncopated drum beat, not the straight disco four on the floor that the 77-79 versions have. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and it mostly works okay here. The drums get out of synch a few times and tend to keep the jam earthbound, but overall it's solid. They still haven't quite figured out exactly how to make this groove really soar, but they're getting there.

Wharf Rat may be highlight #2. I thought this was a very strong version with great vocals (especially on the bridge) and some very nice Jerry in the outro jam, hinting at some the rolling summer glory of the 7/17 Comes a Time jam. It fades to a near silence and the drums come up for a short low-key interlude before the Wheel. This was another constant for 76 that showed up all over the place, but not always with much variety. This one is placed just right, with very nice, expansive feel. I want to say it felt a little longer than the usual, but I didn't compare times. Bob, of course, cuts it off with Around to close us out, and they put it to bed with US Blues, which always feel kind of blah to me this year. Ah well.

So in summation: no dizzying highs, but they've proven to everyone that they're back where they belong, that they have a bunch of new tricks up their sleeve, and that some magic is in the making. When I finish up this whole silly endeavor, I'd like to compile a fantasy Road Trips esque collection of the bests of the week -- the HSF is making it on there, but I don't know what else from tonight. Everything mostly sounded great, but they're most definitely still getting warmed up.

*

DAY TWO: 7/13/76
http://www.archive.org/details/gd76-07-13.sbd.vernon.18480.sbeok.shnf

Everyone says they'll take quality over quantity, but the length of shorter sets is such a standard deadhead complaint that I wonder sometimes... Many folks want a 3+ feast rather small portions of gourmet delicacies. But even though we get barely an hour of music to start with, I remember this night's first set more fondly than almost all of 7/12 as a whole. This was the breakout for Half Step (last played 10/20/74; it was last song they played, actually, before AWBYGN) and much like Sugaree, you can hear them testing how far to extend it and where. The Half Steps from this run are all wonderful, though they don't come to the same pinnacles that versions from the following years shoot for -- it doesn't seem like they're trying to, either. Once again with 76, the M.O. is to find the secret backroads hidden in these tunes and see where they go. I'm absolutely in love by the time Peggy-O comes around with it's wonderful slow roll, plus two Jerry solos. While I do love the punchy little pep that 77 and beyond has, there's an appealing lazy feel to these that fits the back-porch vibe of the song perfectly.

Crazy Fingers in 1976 hopefully just goes without saying. This one, one of the longest of the year, is a real thing of beauty, takings its sweet time in winding around to where it's basically just Jerry and Keith feeding beautifully off each other. Sounds like Jer is thinking Comes a Time (a combo he did in June), but Phil wisely interjects and they wind up in Let it Grow. These 76 LIG's all have a tight, almost quiet intensity to them, and this one, like most of them, is a smoker. Take note of Donna's spot-on vocals in here. The regular drums break nearly stops dead while Mickey finds his bongos(?), then Jerry and Phil join in for some spacey playing before everyone else comes crashing back for a very nice extended ride that bubbles over into a Might as Well closer. Delicious.

The second set opens with TMNS, longer, looser, and more jammed than the previous night. Roses and High Time glisten as usual, particularly High Time, another major treat for the crowd -- the last one heard in San Francisco was during the April 70 Fillmore West run. I like how they keep this sweet and low compared with some of the 77 versions, which can sound a little shrill and melodramatic to my ears ("I! was! losing! time!") Then, if that wasn't enough for the old-timers, comes the grand return of St. Stephen to San Francisco. The last Bay Area version was 8/19/70! This one has a predictably great energy and the jam jumps right away into an NFA groove with bouncy, almost calypso feel to it. Great Rhodes from Keith, who even takes a little solo. Great stuff, and after NFA proper they taper it down to just the drums before returning to the Stephen reprise. Sugar Magnolia would be in a order, but being 76 they somehow find space to wedge in Stella Blue, of all things. The trandition is a little slippery at first, but Jerry redeems it with a gorgeous solo at the end, then back to SSDD. Finally, and maybe to compensate for the shorter sets, we get our second Dancin' of the week, and much better than the night before. Much better groove to this (15 minutes!) and Jerry evens gets in some wahwah at the end. Great encore! Great show! No need for anything more, since it's not like there are any down spots in this one at all.

*

DAY THREE: 7/14/76
http://www.archive.org/details/gd76-07-14.sbd.vernon.18594.sbeok.shnf

Tonight has a nice first set, but but nothing particularly outrageous until the end. Sugaree continues to stretch, with two distinctly nice peaks in Jerry's solos. I love how gooey the vibe of this is. This Minglewood unfortunately seems to have less of a funky bottom to it as the prior night's for whatever reason. After a bumpy start, Scarlet hits a bubbly groove and the jam starts delicious and tantalizing, but seems to end a bit prematurely. Questionable positioning of a late first set Ship of Fools, but the 35 minute Playin sandwich that closes it out more than makes up for it. Not a ton happening in the first jam, which doesn't get too far out there before they break for drums; then the Wheel, whose jam quickly shifts back into a cool Playin groove, then drifts off into a very long Space that starts kinda pokey and sparse, but gets more involved after a good low end Phil rattling, culminating in a very long, very wonderful slow swim back to the Reprise (but yes, despite her vocal prowess this week, Donna's wail still hurts). So, in short, not as moving a first set as the shorter but much sweeter 7/13, but not at all bad.

Second set opens with a slinky, funky BE Women -- the only time it ever opened a set, I believe -- then the usual Samson and a gorgeous FOTD before the jam (Jerry had been playing it slow for a while, so this was probably no surprise to anyone in attendance). Let it Grow is wonderful once again: like 7/12's LLRain, the chemistry between Bob and Donna is palpable as they crack each other up during the first chorus and it soars from there, with Jerry in perfect quiet/fast 76 mode. They forego the drums break tonight, presumably because of where they planned on taking the jam (?). As much as I enjoy the drums solo, this one can't afford to take a break, and they just let the jam flow in a way that feels almost more like an Eyes jam. They also seem to play around more with the added chord change that they slipped into these 76 versions (starting at 5:52), which gives a cool boost to the jam. Then they finally detour into another quiet jam, mostly Jerry and the drums, which quietly tapers right into (hey!) Eyes. Sporting a fast but mellow intro, it sounds like only rimshots and high hat from the drummers at first. Mostly patched from an aud, and the energy isn 't as tight as Let it Grow, but great stuff nevertheless. Like most 76 Eyes, the outro jam isn't the strong point, but this again tapers down to just Jerry, noodling away in what to me sounds like a precursor to this May 77 pre-Wharf Rat solo jam… and into WR it goes. Beautiful dynamics here, though the jam isn't particular amazing and once again eases into another nearly solo Jerry walk. Now they move it into the Other One with a cool quiet transition , and they're back at the level of the Let it Grow jam, smoking from the word go. Note how Jer starts on slide right off, plus check those octaves he plays starting at 4:45 right before the verse. This one is a total cooker, with endless invention from everybody for the whole duration (sounds like Jer and Donna bail on Bob for the vocals). There s a minute of indeterminate float before a short Phil solo that clunkily transitions into another TMNS! They're cookin' right along, until in the first 6/8 jam, the bottom fades out for a few seconds into almost yet another space float, until the second jam kicks right in! They tried this on 7/12, but not 7/13 -- the repeats don't mean a thing, given how playful they are with both the set placements and the arrangements. Hell, Bob's "thank you!" at the end even seems more playful than usual, as does the brisk, punchy JBG encore.

afterthought: 1976 was certainly a year of strange song combos and interesting jams, but this stands out in my mind as one of the more unique. The next three nights are heavy-hitters, both in terms of length and creativity, but something about this LIG>Eyes>WR>O1>TMNS always gets me. Quite a ride!

*

NIGHT FOUR: 7/16/76
http://www.archive.org/details/gd76-07-16.set1aud-set2sbd.miller.23569.sbeok.shnf

7/16's first set is the only set of the whole run that we currently have no sbd of. Bob Menke made excellent aud recordings of every night (except, apparently, 7/18 ), so what we have to listen to is still plenty good. Allowing for personal song preferences, we get a nearly ideal first set for the year. They must have all gotten a good night's sleep on the night off, because this one seems to have an extra energetic kick -- hard to say for sure, given that this is the only aud I've listened to this time, but they seem to be pushing a little harder and stretching a little further on Cassidy, TMNS, and especially the nice bonus Scarlet to close the nearly 80 minute set. Excellent stuff!

Playing in the Band opens the second set, which is the first of many remarkable things about the next 66 minutes. The song itself has a strong start, but to my ears it drifts away into a fairly blah Playin jam for the first few minutes. It starts to space, but Phil pulls it back together with a bassline that's reminiscent of Stronger Than Dirt… somewhat. Discussion of this warrants a separate post, but this is essentially the same jam that Phil had been dropping into jams occasionally since late 72 that (arguably) morphed into Stronger Than Dirt at some point. Jerry doesn't seem particularly interested at first, but as he brightens up, the jam starts to cohere more fully. There's some stunning Jerry/Phil/Keith interplay before the end as Phil cues different key changes. Seems like Phil has the another next song in mind, but Jerry gets on slide and leads the way into Cosmic Charlie. Honestly, I've never been all that moved by this tune, either in the 60's or in in 76. They certainly nail this one, but it never gets past the novelty for me. A moment's pause at the end before Bobby starts chording Samson; again, nothing new in here, but Weir and the drummers certainly make that segue as smooth as possible.

At this point in the jam, it seems like the vibe is consuming whatever the band sees fit to throw into the mix. They're so hooked up that probably wouldn't have able to disrupt the flow if they tried. Clearly the Dead were masters of this kind of loosely flowing groove, but another thing that makes 76 unique to me is how the sound is greater than any individual song. Almost moreso than any other year, it's like you're listening to 1976 first and a certain song second.

Samson ends and there is another moment's pause before something interesting happens. From the silence, they rise back, momentarily back in the Playin jam, but Bob seems to have made the faux pas of needing to retune in mid-jam. Rather than disrupt the flow, they opt for a beautiful, very quiet space jam, Jerry playing flurries of harmonics, seemingly to cover Bobby's tuning. Fascinating, too, that they've found their way back to almost the exact same space that they left behind two songs earlier. It's hard to get super excited about a little jam as quiet as this, but it's an amazingly rewarding little moment that 76 is particularly filled with. On the aud, of course, this is when the meatheads start screaming for Dark Star. At 3:49 into this track, after much prodding from Jerry and Phil, Bobby begins strumming the Spanish Jam, which grows and develops nicely. At 8:32, on a dime, Jerry turns it back to the Playin/Stronger Than Dirt jam briefly before they break for the drums. They hint at the Other One, but settle again on the Wheel, and again it's hard not to marvel how deep in the groove they sound. The Wheel, as expected, winds it's way back to Playin, and while it's not a particularly exciting jam first, Jerry threads it back into one the more beguiling Playin reprises I've heard in a while. Bobby ties it off, maybe thinking that the set was done, with Around.

This Playing in the Band sequence is remarkable for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, for me, musically it never quite adds up to something truly special. There are some really breathtaking moments of brilliance that the band almost unearhs by accident, but the meat of the jam just doesn't really get me going. Those moments of brilliance, however, are the first glimmers of the x-factor that lifts the next two nights to their respective ecstatic heights. It's also worth noting, however, the length and structure of this jam. It feels like they're expanding the standard Playin>drums>Wheel>Playin sequence to include more songs, but structuring a whole jam sequence within Playing in the Band was still a rare move for the band. 10/18/72 and 11/21/73 were anomalies, and although a number of fall 73 and 74 Playins included "sandwich jams," and it wasn't until 10/20/74 that Playin' started and ended an entire set with returns to the Playin' jam in the middle. Starting with this jam (and later on 9/28 and 10/10/76), Playin' incorporated the meat of the second set within its bookends. ALSO interesting is that, in this case, the entire jam has notable lack of "true" (imho) Jerry tunes. It's debatable of course, but to me Cosmic Charlie and the Wheel feel more like "whole band" songs and Spanish Jam always feels like a "Bobby song" to me.

For that reason, maybe, the set keeps going. After some lengthy tuning, Jerry gets to sing his only lead vocal of the set, a lovely High Time that nevertheless feels a little out of place. They take another beak to fix the drums, during which Phil wishes a happy birthday to Bill Graham, before they close with BG's favorite Dead tune, Sugar Magnolia. Another so-so US Blues encores for the second time.

I've listened to this show several times since I got it a couple years back and I never took to it like others from the run. This last time through, I found myself noticing more bright spots in the Playin jam, which I had never much cared for. But in terms of listenablity and enjoyablity, the first sets wins for me this night. I'll certainly come back to this second set again, but not as often as the 7/13 1st, the 7/14 jam, or the next two nights.

*

NIGHT FIVE: 7/17/76
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1976-07-17.mtx.chappell.sb25.95734.flac16
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1976-07-17.sbd.fricker-fix.tetzeli.34708.sbefail.flac16

I know I'm reading too much into this one, but Promised Land's travelogue to California is almost a subconscious announcement, "okay, we're home now" to the crowd, signaling a special night to come. Full disclosure: I have listened to this show more than any other from this run (even more than 7/18, probably), and it's a treasured personal favorite of mine. The magic starts with Half Step, a low-key version that's hardly as dynamic as many others (including, probably, the breakout on 7/13), but this one stands out for the delicate, lovely interplay between Jerry and Keith during the jam. Again, like I said from some other night, the way they seem to be operating is "okay, we know what we can do with this one already, let's find a new wrinkle to explore tonight." Mama Tried, Deal, and Minglewood (again, special note for the short-lived slower, funkier arrangement of this) all keep it moving in the right direction, then we hit plateau #2, a perfect, slow, soulful Peggy-O. Two glowing solos from Jerry that slowly rock you and back and forth. Big River is a good nudge, but Jerry is already following that fat summer sun and unleashes a wonderful Sugaree. Part of the smoothness is a result of the drummers easing back and letting Keith and Jerry really drive the groove. Smooth and relaxed, yet Jerry scrubs the climax madly (proto-fanning, maybe?). It looks incongruous on paper, but the JBG closer feels like just what's called for. The start/finish Chuck Berry combo wasn't unheard of, but it's a nice surprising kick that gooses us for what's to come.

For whatever reason, Donna never makes it back onstage for the second set, a fact alone that may put this in the top 10 for some heads. Bob blesses us with our nightly Samson sermon, but Jerry is about to bring the true religion. 7/17's jam may not look as outrageous as 7/16's. It may not twist and turn unexpected corners, but as much as 7/16 seems to exemplify Bob's uniquely twisty-turny approach, 7/17 is all Jerry and that sweet, sun-baked flowing groove. He starts it off with Comes a Time, a tune I would expect to hear at the end of set-long jam like this, not at the beginning. This Comes a Time, though, unrolls before us as the song sweetly fades way, leaving only that beautiful outro to go on and on. Why didn't they ever repeat this? Why did they never again squeeze more than a minute or two out of this jam, and what inspired them to stretch this as far as they do tonight? It's not as jaw-droppingly beautiful as, say, something like 2/18/71, but this isn't trying to be an emotionally charged ride. Rather than the cathartic release of some of the pristine May 77 versions, this one is an evening on the porch with a few cold ones, or a jump into the pond on a muggy summer day. A total jewel, as they say. I love that it almost sounds like they're hinting at Eyes near the end (which simply would been too sweet), but the Other One wins out. After a quick minute of drums, they begin in earnest, jamming the O1 with a more aggressive feel, and jumping fairly early into a longer space. This, paradoxically, is the darkest they got during the whole run, tucked in the heart of their warmest jam. Ain't that just the way with these guys?

Space gets noisy, but nothing too crazy, but then they find their way back into a beautiful jam and this amazing sloooow transition into Eyes of the World. This is one of my favorite moments of the year, actually. Just listen to these few minutes, listen to how subtle everyone's individual transitions are. Listen to Keith's amazing Rhodes sound, too. Eyes itself crackles and glows in prime style, but this is one of the only versions of the year to feature much substantial jamming after the last verse. It sounds like Keith returns to the Stronger Than Dirt jam from the previous night, though maybe not -- Phil's most definitely still in Eyes, and in this placement it almost sounds like a half-forgotten variation on the 73-74 Eyes jam. Hmm. It peps up towards the end and sounds like it's headed for GDTRFB, but Jerry takes a quick left and pulls the Other One back in for the second verse before turning right back around and zipping back to GDTRFB for real. A bombastic, joyful ending to a most enjoyable sequence, and OMSN is a preferred Bobby closer for me (and yes, it was a Saturday), so I'm left smiling. Nothing missing, nothing extraneous -- an ideal second set in my mind.

The usual US Blues encore seems like a pretty paltry offering after all that, but they're not done yet. They done a standalone Not Fade Away as an encore twice this year already, so it wasn't a total surprise, but after the concentrated brilliance of that jam, you'd think they would be ready to go. And, to be honest, they do sound a little drained as they wind 14 across minutes of this, but it's involved and creative enough to make it a memorable encore for a very memorable show.

I think so, at least. It's one of my very favorites, like I said, and one of those Dead sets I'd put above most others. For another much less gushing review, I direct you to http://www.deadlistening.com/2008/02/1976-july-17-orpheum-theatre-san.html

*

NIGHT SIX: 7/18/76

[Well, since the TDIH has only just rolled around, the author has not yet composed his review - but it'll appear here when he does....]

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Poster: Jim F Date: Jul 21, 2011 12:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

I guess I should have put this here...


I think the only thing worth mentioning that somehow didn't get mentioned in such thorough reviews is that this run saw the return of The Other One, not played since 74 (oops, technically 75). Personally, it's been years but I remember being let down by that jam on the 13th. It looked really good on paper, but I remember not finding it as great as I thought it would. If I remember correctly, I listened to it while taking a long late night walk sometime in 2004 or so, I'm probably due up for another listen.

This post was modified by Jim F on 2011-07-21 07:38:13

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 18, 2011 10:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

As promised, the series finale....

NIGHT SIX: 7/18/76
http://www.archive.org/details/gd76-07-18.sbd.bertha.14838.sbeok.shnf

The final night was broadcast on the radio (and later on the King Biscuit Flower Hour -- the whole jam!), which is why this show has been one of the more widely circulated of the year. I'm guessing this is also the reason why there's no aud recording out there of this, either. By this point, the band was certainly on top of their game -- they don't, maybe surprisingly, sound all that tired or worn out, but they do feel like they're maybe a tad overly conscious of the radio broadcast (remember that anxiety about "proving themselves" as still being a relevant band?) The opening Half Step is a well executed version; probably "better" for many folks than the 7/17 version, I'm guessing, but to me it seems like they're playing it pretty. The first few songs have that feel, actually -- Cassidy, for example, is tight and energetic, but it almost feels like Jerry goes into the jam thinking "ok, got this solo worked out, make it tight and don't screw around." Scarlet Begonias is the highlight of the set for me, with a long, sweet jam that builds and crests naturally. The second half of the set kinda slumps for me, personally, with a kinda lackadaisical LLRain-Jed-Loser stretch, though the Music that ends it may also be the best of the whole run. Nice one!

A strong Mighty Swell starts the second, before it feels like both Bob and Jerry have to have their moments (Samson and Candyman) before they really get down to business. Lazy>Supplication has its usual gooey center that the band get all over, but then Bobby wastes no time in leading the charge into a breakneck Let it Grow. Not as hot as 7/14, imho, but this is still a smoker; the drums break sounds more juiced up and energized, but the second jam already sounds like they're anticipating the jam to come. Usually a good sign, in my book, and this LIG drifts into a smooth, pretty, floating jam for a few minutes that sounds like it could be… I mean it doesn't sound exactly, but… well, I mean they hadn't played it that tour, and the last one was 10/18/74, so it could have been possible, but… is that it? …
If/when an aud of this part ever surfaces, I'll bet whatever you want that the usual suspects in the crowd were hollering DARK STAR! as loud as they could. Fooled ya! In hindight, it's not a tease or even a "jam" and there are certainly clear hints of where the band is going. But still. It would have been nice, that's all I'm saying.

Given all that, it's a pretty spectacular transition to a pretty titanic Wharf Rat. After a very strong reading, the last three minutes are given over to another Jerry/Keith night flight. These always are breathtaking little jams in my mind, and Jerry really does us right in this one. He soars higher and higher, finally climaxing by cascading into the Other One theme, then dropping out for a few seconds for the drummers to properly set it up. This Other One certainly isn't the ride that the previous night's was, but the energy is right and I've got nothing to complain about. Phil sets up Stella at the end, but Jerry ain't having it. They do that funny "but we said we'd play this song / no dammit, I want to play that song" push & pull for a minute, but Jer knows what his people want to hear and St. Stephen it is. The Stephen>NFA samwich feels almost like, well, like they knew they had to do it again. Like through-the-motions, but not as fresh sounding as the 7/13 return celebration. It's still a pretty slinky NFA jam, though, and finally Jerry tries to restart St. Stephen, but for whatever reason it takes everyone a full minute to get with him, dwindling down almost to silence. They do the reprise and throw another curveball, the evening's Wheel. Lovely intro as usual, and I always appreciate a little Jerry slide on the outro, which extends itself nicely into uncertainty, only to be broken by Phil's abrupt Other One roll, jarring everyone from their smiling doze. Just a quick return to the second verse for symmetry's sake, then the final kiss goodnight. Yes, he sang it once before, but the idea of it wedged into a Sugar Magnolia closer just seems silly now. This right here is what we want in a Stella, that perfect moment of silent purity, those pinpoint stars that Jerry dots the sky with at the end. He's most definitely painting the skyline tonight. Gorgeous, gorgeous. One of my favorites, actually.

Everyone gets one final group-hug footstomp through Sugar Mags and one last shoo out the door with JBG. And so ends a week with the hometown heroes, returned from exile.

Upon reflection, this was a most impressive jam, not least because of it's length (nearly 80 minutes). Given the setlist, it's almost strange that the most magical parts of it are centered around the Wharf Rat and, while none of it feels like an afterthought, it does feel somewhat tossed together towards the end. Bonus points for finishing that Other One, though, and for spinning out such a long jam for the radio broadcast. I'm sure everyone taping at home must have been scratching their heads (and no doubt gnashing their teeth about where to flip!). Compared with most of the rest of the year, it's a top drawer set. I'd say that for the run, it definitely takes 7/16's equally eye-popping jam. 7/17, though… man. 7/17…


FINAL THOUGHTS:
7/17 is clearly (imho oviously) the best show the run. 7/18 and 7/16 are tied for second; 7/16 had a better first set, now that I think about it, I'm probably just as likely to listen to the 7/16 jam as much as I am to the 7/18 in the future. 7/14 and 7/13 would have been a true stunner if combined, but as it is 7/13's first set is an hour of sublime beauty while 7/14's jam is up there with the year's best, imho. 7/12, sorry to say, takes up the rear, but certainly had its moments. Not one worth revisiting anytime soon, though. And you all can listen to the soundcheck on your own!
I hope you find something rewarding in this run that you didn't know about or had forgotten.

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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Jul 18, 2011 6:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

LiA, I thought you where going to delve into these shows, but Coltrane is still up. What forum is Nick from?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 18, 2011 10:08am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

Fear not, there will be a new post up soon.

Nick does not often grace us with the long reviews, but you've read him before - rattling on about 12/6/73...

The mystery forum is http://transitiveaxis.forumup.us/ - kind of a "Son of the Lost Sailor's Pub."

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Jul 18, 2011 10:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

Except with 100% less Kochman.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jul 18, 2011 6:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

Oh. My. Gosh.

Glad I'm not on that forum, I'd be too intimidated to add anything. Thanks for posting. Add the 7/18 when it comes around!

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 18, 2011 12:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

Funnily enough, nobody there has added much either.... These long reviews seem to cover the bases!

As for intimidation, pfft. Plenty of folks post more with less to say. I didn't post here for a couple years because I thought I had nothing to add.
You are probably the writer on this forum the most like me. Though I admit, you'd have to work a little harder to become the next LiA....

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 18, 2011 6:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

I'm curious now about the mystery forum, I didn't think there was anywhere on the net other than notable blogs with the kind of detailed writing and appreciation you see in the IA forum. Also, AR, I really don't think you should ever be "intimidated" by anyone else's perceptions or knowledge or verbosity - have confidence in your way of hearing the band and translating that experience, you are one of many fine posters round about these who help me hear with different ears and enhance the richness of my understanding. I've read most of the books written about the band and read all the blogs I can find, as well as trying to dig through years of forum archives here, and I think your commentary on the band is as insightful as anyone's.

There's so much writing about the band, and there's always someone with deeper knowledge, if you saw 800 shows from 71 on, the guy who saw 1300 from 67 on has you beat, right? And Phil was at every show!

In the context of the scene of the band and the fans, I'm one of the much-maligned later generation of fans (though my path into the band was a bit unconventional) but I don't think my ears are inferior to those of any other human being, we all have similar brains and auditory nerves, so far as I know they didn't put any cybernetic hyperperception implants in anyone's cochlea at the Fillmore back in the day, so as much as I might Wish I Coulda Been There I feel just as entitled to shoot my mouth off as anyone...at some point in the far future all of us will be long-since disarranged atoms anyway, we might as well try to get as much information out of the jello inside our skulls and into long-lasting format as possible!

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jul 18, 2011 11:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

Phil was at every show? Really?

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1981-05-22.nak300.walker.scotton.miller.95938.sbeok.flac16

Hah! Got you!

Oh, and this one too:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd81-04-25.aud.munder.9728.sbeok.shnf

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-07-18 18:38:28

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 18, 2011 5:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

I actually don't include those as Grateful Dead shows, I regard them as outside of the canon. "Jerry Garcia and Friends" shows perhaps?

When it comes to bass, accept no substitute for Phil Lesh!

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 18, 2011 7:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

We have Phil's word for it!

Q: How many Grateful Dead shows have you seen?
PHIL: All of them.

http://www.archive.org/post/262159/phil-answers-fan-questions

Actually, it raises an interesting philosophical question.... Jerry once mourned that he had never seen a Grateful Dead show, and could never see one. And he was always going on about the subjectivity of the experience, how anyone's perception of the show might not match anyone else's, but they would all be equally valid.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jul 18, 2011 9:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Orpheum '76 TDIH

Oh, OK. I agree with bk on the principle, and I agree with Phil because I don't think most people who argued with him would get the best of it.

Actually I think Phil said something similar -- about never having been to a Dead show. In that sense.